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Feds weigh in on prison sentence for Murdaugh financial co-conspirator Russell Laffitte

Independent Banks of South Carolina
Ex-CEO of Palmetto State Bank Russell Laffitte was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison August 1, 2023, for conspiring with disbarred attorney and convicted killer Alex Murdaugh to steal millions in settlement money from vulnerable clients.

Less than 24 hours after Russell Laffitte was sentenced to seven years in prison for helping convicted killer Alex Murdaugh steal millions from clients, federal authorities are weighing in on the former banker’s fate.

“Russell Laffitte used his position of power and trust to steal from unusually vulnerable victims,” says U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs.

The ex-CEO of Palmetto State Bank was found guilty last fall of conspiring with Murdaugh to commit wire and bank fraud. Prosecutors argued it was a sophisticated scheme that enabled the now disbarred attorney to steal millions from clients.

“This outcome sends a clear message that the FBI and its partners will continue to pursue justice and protect the rights of innocent victims of complex financial crimes," says Steve Jensen, special agent in charge of the FBI Columbia Field Office.

In addition to sentencing Laffitte to seven years in federal prison, Judge Richard Gergel also ordered him to pay more than $3 million in restitution. Laffitte maintains he is innocent, insisting he was not a willing participant but someone who made a mistake by trusting Murdaugh.

Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes played a prominent role in his six-week murder trial earlier this year in which he was convicted of gunning down his wife and son in June of 2021. Prosecutors argued Murdaugh killed his family members to create a distraction from his financial misdeeds that were about to be found out.

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.